Six Detroit Red Wings Who Must Step Up During 2013-14 Season
Six Detroit Red Wings Who Must Step Up For 2013-14 Season
The Detroit Red Wings started the 2013 season with some of the lowest expectations in recent history. They more than exceeded those expectations by reaching the playoffs, and coming up just short of reaching the Western Conference Finals. As the team now makes the jump to the Eastern Conference, they will try to keep their consecutive playoff appearance streak alive, and will do so with a few new faces. Free agency saw Detroit bring in Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, and while the arrival of these two skilled players should give the team a boost it also places some added pressure on last season’s underperforming forwards.
Defense was a major concern for the Red Wings last season, and they head into the 2013-14 season relying on a core group of young players. With three players heading into their sophomore seasons, the team will hope that the growing pains of last season are a thing of the past and the future will continue to be bright.
For some players, the easiest improvement will be just staying healthy. The Wings lost an incredible number of man-games to injury last season, yet somehow still found a way to win. With less travel and a less compact schedule, things should only improve on this front. The depth of the team, as well as a handful of almost-ready prospects means that if one player goes down, there’s no guarantee he gets his job back when he returns to full strength.
These six players are the ones who will be looked to for a bigger contribution next season.
Brian Lashoff was one of the bright spots for the Red Wings early on, as he jumped from the AHL to the NHL after numerous injuries on the blue line. He cooled off later in the season, and was a team-worst minus-10 with the Wings before being sent back to the AHL during the playoffs. He needs to show that his rookie season was not a fluke and that he can handle big minutes on a nightly basis.
Drew Miller was handed a three-year extension in the offseason, despite only contributing four goals and eight points during the 2013 season. He finished the season minus-8, and there’s a chance he loses ice time to younger players if he doesn’t contribute a little more offensively.
Jonas Gustavsson was supposed to be the reliable backup to Jimmy Howard that the Red Wings were lacking in previous seasons, but he spent most of the season injured. With only a year left on his contract, he needs to be able to give Howard more than a few nights off next season and put up better numbers while doing so.
Johan Franzen continues to be one of the most frustrating players for Red Wings fans. At times he is one of the best players on the team and seems to score every game, and at other times he seems to disappear. Franzen needs to be consistent next season, and put up some decent numbers if he hopes to justify the lengthy, expensive contract he was handed a few seasons ago.
Kyle Quincey had one of his worst seasons as a professional in 2013. The stat sheet may not reflect how bad things were at times, but the veteran blueliner was often caught out of position and was a non-factor at the offensive end of the ice.
Saying Brendan Smith failed to live up to lofty expectations in his rookie season may be the understatement of the year. Smith will need to contribute offensively, while improving his awareness on the defensive end and not getting caught out of position as often as he did during the 2013 campaign.